Racial Divide On Social Media's Political Impact, Minorities More Optimistic

Minority groups are more positive in their outlook on how social media impacts the political landscape.

That's per a Harris Poll, commissioned by Yahoo News, that examined how different demographic groups view the advent of social media in politics. Harris surveyed 5,188 registered voters online.

Part of the survey asked respondents whether America was “going off on the wrong track.” A significant gap emerged between white and black Americans on this question. 71% of whites compared to only 41% of blacks agreed with the premise.

The release preceded Yahoo’s first Digital Democracy conference on politics and technology, held yesterday in Des Moines, Iowa.

On the question of whether social media has helped on the issue of transparency in political campaigns, the three minority groups specified in this survey: black, Hispanic and Asian-American, strongly supported the statement. 59% of whites also responded positively, significantly lower than black and Asian-Americans, with 74% and 69%, respectively.



White Americans across the board, per the survey, have a more negative outlook on the influence of social media in politics. Whereas all groups believe that social media makes campaigns more negative, whites thought so significantly more. Whites are also more inclined to believe that social media helps the spread of misinformation about politics and the upcoming election.

In essence, the survey shows a certain optimism in minority communities when it comes to social media and politics. The ability of voters to do their own research on any candidate and independently fact-check or cross-reference statements adds greatly to the voter’s agency in making decisions on who will hold political office.

Social media brings politics back to the individual and curtails the influence of talking heads, who have incentives to misinform or under-inform. As noted in yesterday’s column, the 2016 election will be heavily influenced by online forces and minority groups will hold strong cards.

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